Question: Car Roof Rack for a Kayak

Here is a question we received by email:

We are coming to the Big Island in Feb.  We are renting from an ohana that has a tandem kayak that we may use.  We will be having a rental car that will not have racks on it.  The homeowner has straps for the kayak but their rack is a permanent fixture.  Is it possible to protect the roof with a tarp and strap the kayak on securely.  If not where can we rent a rack for a couple of days.  We will be staying in Kealakekua area.  Thanks for your help,  Diane C.



We do NOT recommend using a tarp to lay across your car roof while attempting to secure your kayak to it.  This will more than likely result in scratches to the car and also will make it difficult to secure the kayak.

Since you will not have a “soft rack” at your disposal, the next best thing is to either make one or rent one.  A common soft rack that the rental companies use on the Big Island are merely two blocks of styrofoam - one under the front of the kayak and one under the aft end with the straps cinching it down tightly.  If you can’t find a few pieces of large styrofoam, the next best thing is to simply rent them from any kayak operator or rental company - I am sure they will charge you only a small fee to use one of their soft racks.  We recommend using the Aloha Kayak Company ( - we rent our kayaks exclusively from them - and they are Hawaiian owned and operated.  They are located in the town of Honalo, a mere 20 minutes or so north of Kealakekua Bay.

Enjoy your kayaking on the Big Island - we love it!  Check out our Big Island Kayak Guide for more information.

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